Even when the Cote d’Azur and French Riviera put their winter coat on, the Principality of Monaco still offers visitors a mild Mediterranean climate. Instead of sleeping until the sea mists roll away in spring, the city-state hosts major events and has some fantastic things for you to explore. This is your definitive travel guide to what’s on from December to February, so read on and come and explore Monaco in winter. From the glitz of its festive parties to world-class sporting events, walking tours along sandy beaches under an azure sky and amazing experiences in ultra-luxurious hotels and restaurants, Monaco’s winter season is every bit as scintillating as its summer predecessor.
The Principality’s mild Mediterranean climate makes it one of the most pleasant places to spend time in winter. The average maximum temperature is 57°F (14°C), and it never dips below 41°F (5°C). Sunny days are far from a rarity, so conditions are perfect for taking in the city-state’s green spaces, including its Jardin Exotique. This park has the advantage of being in bloom all year-round, as some of its succulents, like its aloe and jade plants, blossom in the winter months. Walk its pathways and you get the added bonus of some magnificent views of the Fontvieille district and Rocher.
Once you have done that, there are some great ways of exploring Monaco in winter on the seafront or the Principality’s hilltop destinations. For instance, there are superb landscapes to admire along the road from La Turbie to the Tête de Chien. This promontory is perched at an altitude of 500 m and offers exceptional panoramic views over the Principality of Monaco, its ports, its Rocher and the Mediterranean sea glittering in the gentle winter sunlight. As well as a few luxury yachts, you will even be able to spot the Italian Riviera. Fancy heading up among the clouds? Book a Monac’Air helicopter to whisk you off to the ski resorts of the Alps in less than an hour! Once you are back, finish off this fabulous experience in style by going for a relaxing soak in the Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo’s heated pool.
If you want to know what’s on in Monaco in winter, you should also make the most of the low season’s tranquil ambiance, which is a world away from the buzz that descends on the Principality in summer. Step into the museums and exhibition spaces without having to battle summer crowds, book an evening at the Opera House or theater and warm up with a coffee or a couple of mimosas in the kind of elegant setting you only find in Monaco’s famous bars, cafes and brasseries. The world’s second smallest state is a dynamic place where the year is peppered with major events, including in winter.
Late December: The winter season gets off to a gorgeous start in Monaco
During the magical festive season, the Principality decks itself in all its sparkling finery to welcome in the winter season. Christmas and New Year are the perfect time for amazing excursions, beautiful promenades along the coast and old port, gourmet meals and wild festive parties, so we have plenty of travel tips for you.
Monaco’s coastline suffers little from bad winter weather, so there is a lot of scope for lovely walks in Winter. The Jardin des Boulingrins and Jardin de la Petite Afrique, for instance, are prime viewpoints for admiring the Monte Carlo Casino decked out for Christmas. Once night has fallen, the Place du Casino’s illuminated decorations are irresistibly dreamy. Other dazzling places to visit in late December are Monaco’s luxury hotels, such as the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo. Families will also love the Christmas village that takes up residence at Hercule Harbor and the traditional carrousel in front of the Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo. Shopping should also be at the top of anyone’s list of what’s on in Monaco in December. You might head for the One Monte-Carlo district’s luxury boutiques, for example, to find the perfect present for a special someone. Christmas is also the time of year when delicious meals take pride of place. The Resort Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer’s eateries are the place to be for an amazing New Year’s Eve or chic, gourmet Christmas buffet. Monaco turns up the heat in winter with top-class performances by the Ballets de Monte-Carlo and festive visits to the Blue Gin bar in the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort, which transforms itself into a mountain chalet for the holidays. The legendary Buddha Bar is another great option. And to end your year with a dose of real panache, try your luck at the gaming tables in Monaco’s casinos!
Monaco’s top January events
New Year gets off to a roaring start in the Principality. This January, two major motor sports events lead the way in Monaco, home of the Monaco Grand Prix. If you are more into culture than motor cars, winter in Monaco is perfect not only for excursions but relaxation and pampering too.
To get your year off to a good start, soak up some Mediterranean sun in Monaco this January. Take the family to see the traditional St Devota’s Day festivities on January 27th, stroll through Condamine market, explore the narrow winding streets of the Old Town up to the Princely Palace and call in at some unmissable tourist attractions, including the Oceanographic Museum. People also spend winter in Monaco to see the champions crowned at the Monte Carlo Automobile Rally and the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique, the second of which is exclusively open to vintage motor cars. It is also a busy time at the Louis II Stadium as Monaco AS gets its Ligue 1 season back underway. This wintery month is also ideal for pampering sessions lasting everything from a few hours to a whole weekend at the Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo and Cinq Mondes Spa at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort. You can also look after your health and wellbeing in Monaco’s restaurants, whether you opt for a chic, well-balanced lunch at L’Hirondelle or a gourmet brunch at the Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo. On an evening, treat yourself to a show at the Monte Carlo International Circus Festival or head to the city-state’s buzzing nightclubs – why not sample some pastis at the Buddha Bar Monte Carlo, for example?
Dazzling Februarys on the Riviera
When winter is at its chilliest, the Principality of Monaco’s awe-inspiring historic buildings offer tourists the warmest of welcomes. It opens up its legendary buildings, history and artistic heritage sites for your walking tours. In February, Monaco is also a luxurious destination for anyone wanting to recharge their batteries and celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day in prestigious surroundings.
If you are traveling with your family, come to the Fontvieille terraces to meet the animals at the Jardin Animalier, or skate on the open-air rink in Hercule Harbor’s Prince Rainier III watersports stadium. If the weather gets a little cloudy, make that your cue to visit one of the Principality’s most legendary hotspots, the Monte Carlo Casino. It is open for curious visitors to explore every morning. You can also learn about a slice of Monaco’s history at the Museum of Stamps and Currency and take in some vibrant contemporary artworks at the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco. If you want to get your heart pumping a little faster, one of the Monaco winter sports you can do is the Monaco Run, which will take you all over the city. After that, it is time to relax in the Principality’s luxurious Carré d’Or area. Whether you opt for a promenade through the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo’s jewelers’ piazza, a gourmet bite to eat at the Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo or a pampering session at the Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo, positive vibes come guaranteed. Monaco’s Michelin-starred restaurants are the perfect Valentine’s Day setting. You will never forget the romantic evening you spent in these doubly and triply starred destinations - unless you would prefer to go to the Bal de la Rose or the kind of prestigious evening gala that only Monaco knows how to throw?